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Broadway Bill

Broadway Bill(1934)

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Remind Me

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Businessman J. L. Higgins, president of the Higgins National Bank in Higginsville, announces a board of directors' dinner meeting for his four daughters and three sons-in-law, each of whom presides over one of Higgins' subsidiaries. All are reached quickly except for Dan Brooks, who is attending to his thoroughbred, "Broadway Bill," with the help of Alice, J. L.'s unwed daughter. Dan hates running his father-in-law's paper box factory, and is urged by Alice and stablehand Whitey to devote himself to racing Bill. While preparing for dinner that night, Dan's wife Margaret refuses to sympathize with Dan's misery over his job or share his excitement for his first love, horseracing. She informs him that he could someday own the vast Higgins financial empire, and they then attend the dinner, during which J. L. informs his family of his acquisition that morning of the Acme Lumber Co. He says that its presidency will be left vacant until Alice's future husband takes the post, but free-willed Alice insists she would never marry a man who would walk into such a job. Following dinner, J. L. reports that sales are dangerously off in Dan's paper box division due to his inattention to work. When J. L. orders Dan to sell Broadway Bill and return full time to the office, Dan quits instead and leaves Higginsville without Margaret, who refuses to go with him. Alice cries in happiness for Dan's "escape," while also hiding her attraction to him. At the Imperial Race Track, Dan rejoins his friends as he enters Broadway Bill in the $25,000 Imperial Derby, which is to be held in two weeks. Dan scrapes together the entry fee, then sets about finding the five hundred dollar nominating fee. He convinces Pop Jones to give him feed and shelter on credit, but is unable to get money from his old friend Colonel Pettigrew, who is also penniless. At a preliminary race the next day, Bill is disqualified when he bolts the starting gate. Dan writes to Margaret, asking her to send Bill's friend "Skeeter," a pet rooster, but it is Alice who delivers Skeeter. Alice stays to help, despite the protests of Dan, who is unaware of her feelings for him, and also that Margaret expects him to return home to apologize. Alice's presence proves fortunate when Bill gets a serious cold from being soaked by rain pouring through the leaky barn. She nurses Bill back to health, then pawns her fur coat and jewelry to raise money when Whitey is discovered to be using loaded dice while shooting craps to raise the nominating fee. On the eve of the derby, Pop Jones, angry that he has not been paid, has Bill seized and Dan thrown in jail. When a two-dollar bet placed on Bill by J. P. Chase, a bored, bedridden millionaire, is misinterpreted as a $200,000 bet, bookmaker Eddie Morgan, who is backing "Sun Up," is pleased because the odds on his horse go up as Bill's decline. To prevent Bill from being scratched, Eddie bails Dan out and pays his bills. Meanwhile, Eddie has bribed Ted Williams, Bill's jockey, and the jockey riding favorite "Gallant Lady," to throw the race. Eddie's plan is partially crippled, however, when Gallant Lady's jockey is suspended. On the day of the race, Williams reigns Bill in, but Bill ignores his instructions and sprints to victory, only to collapse and die of a burst heart. The following day, Bill is buried at the track, after which J. L. takes Alice home, and Dan leaves with Whitey. Two years pass and J. L. calls another dinner meeting. He announces that since Dan and Margaret's divorce, he has sold his subsidiaries, and that the bank will be next. He hopes his remaining sons-in-law will become independent men, not spineless parasites. Just then, a honking car horn and a shattered window announce Dan's demand that J. L. "release the Princess (Alice) from the dark tower." She runs to join Dan, Whitey and their two new horses, "Broadway Bill II" and "Princess." J. L. then leaves behind his shocked family and escapes with Alice.